DOHA, Qatar - Mihaela Buzarnescu's career renaissance hit new heights at the Qatar Total Open as the 29-year-old Romanian shocked reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, 6-1, 6-3.
"It's very emotional," Buzarnescu said of her first career Top 10 victory. "I'm so happy to get through this match. She's such a big player and has her future in front, so I'm really happy."
Buzarnescu is a junior contemporary of Caroline Wozniacki, but had long been snakebitten by injury, and was ranked well outside the Top 500 this time last year before a string of seven ITF Pro Circuit titles and a US Open main draw debut helped her edge into the Top 40.
"Good question! I never thought about it," she told Andy Taylor when asked about her meteroic rise during the on-court interview. "When I started to play again last year, it was a really tough time for me. I was injured, and so I thought I would never play again. I wanted to quit, but my closest friends and family were supporting me, saying I had to give it one more try and to believe in myself. I just played!"
The Romanian raced out to a fast 5-0 lead and used all of her variety and guile to dispatch Ostapenko, striking 16 winners to 11 unforced errors, drawing 21 errors from the big-hitting Latvian and converting six of 10 break point opportunities to serve out the win in 65 minutes.
"Normally, you wouldn't believe it could happen. But I didn't think of anything, just playing match by match. There's so much pressure in tennis, especially as you're climbing up the rankings. I never thought I could get to this kind of place. It's so important that the people around you support you a lot."
Standing between Buzarnescu and her first Premier 5 quarterfinal is No.9 seed and WTA Elite Trophy Zhuhai champion Julia Goerges, who survived Barbora Strycova in three sets earlier in the day.